As you surf the web and certain websites, they put cookies on your computer to track what you are searching for. This is mostly done so they can target ads specific to what you are looking at. That is why when you go to certain websites you see ads for things that make you wonder, how’d they know I like that? But there is a question of privacy, as you may not want companies and websites tracking your searchs and directly marketing to you in this fashion.
In some of the recent releases of Firefox they enabled a feature in the browser that you could check to opt-out of some of these websites. That means as you surf some of these sites your browser automatically rejects some of these cookies, telling the website in question that you do not want the tracking cookies. While this is helpful, it does not stop all cookies, as not all sites are compliant, but it is a big step forward regardless.
This was one of the actual drawbacks I had when I went from Firefox to Chrome. I liked having this peace of mind in Firefox, but Chrome didn’t have any specific settings like this. However, there is an extension for Chrome that does the exact some thing, it is called Keep My Opt-Outs. Keep My Opt-Outs will tells websites that you do not want their tracking cookies, and opt you out of a lot of the direct marketing ads. This extension is made by Google themselves, so it is not a third party extension, so that made me feel a lot better about using it. If you are on Chrome and want to stop getting targeted ads and cookies on your computer, I would go to the Chrome Web Store and install this extension.
With all that said though, you have to decide if you want to block these cookies and directed ads. There is an argument for keeping these directed ads enabled. Basically when you go to these websites you are still going to get ads, these options do not change that. But by opting out of the tracking cookies, the ads will not be targeted to your specific interests. So you are going to see much more random types of ads. Some people prefer that if they are going to be hit by ads, they might as well be about things they are interested in. Personally I don’t like the ads at all, and would much prefer to keep as much of the tracking cookies off my computer as possible. Again this is a personal decision, everyone has to decide for themselves how much their privacy is worth. But it is important for people to be aware that these things are out there.
So if you want to stop tracking websites from tracking some of your information I would do the following:
- If you are using Firefox, I would go into the options and check the box to tell websites not to track you.
- If you are using Chrome, I would download and install the Keep My Opt-Outs extension.
- If you are using Internet Explorer, I would highly consider switching to Firefox or Chrome.
- If you want none of this, know that websites are putting cookies on your computer to track your interests and enjoy the more specifically targeted ads you will see.